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Development Sociology Major & Minor

Better understand the world, so you can better it

The Department of Development Sociology, now part of the Department of Global Development, at Cornell University is a global leader in purpose-driven social science. Our professors, researchers and outreach specialists are committed to improving communities in New York state and around the world. You can join the next generation of change-makers and conduct research on diverse aspects of development, including governance, population dynamics, environmental change and food systems.

Major in Development Sociology

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students majoring in Development Sociology gain an understanding in societal development and factors to solve social problems, both local and global. The Department of Global Development (formerly the Department of Development Sociology) has a unique program profile that is unmatched by any other departments of sociology in the nation. 

We provide close mentorship and opportunities for active, engaged and experiential learning for the next generation of change-makers and cutting-edge researchers. Recent undergraduate research topics include the reproductive differences between Muslim and non-Muslim women in Africa and the schooling and social networks of HIV/AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe.

The department is well known for international, domestic, rural, environmental, agricultural and population studies. Faculty and students in the department conduct theoretical and applied research, teaching and outreach on the causes, dynamics and consequences of social, cultural, political and economic change.

Development Sociology majors study how societies develop and identify the social pathways that can help build a successful career.

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement.

  • 4 Units of English

  • 4 Units of Mathematics (including pre-calculus)

  • 3 Units of Science (biology, chemistry and physics recommended)

  • Also recommended: social science coursework; statistics

Studying how societies develop can provides useful insights that can enrich other areas of study.

All Development Sociology majors are required to complete the following courses with a grade of "C-" or higher:

  • DSOC 1101 Introduction to Sociology (offered Fall and Spring)
  • DSOC 2010 Population Dynamics (offered Fall only)
  • DSOC 2050 International Development (typically offered Spring only, but in 2019-2020 only offered Fall 2019)
  • DSOC 3010 Theories of Society and Development (offered Fall only)
  • DSOC 3130 Social Indicators and Introduction to Social Science Research (offered Fall only)
  • DSOC 3700 Comparative Social Inequalities (offered Spring only)
  • One statistics course (Most majors take AEM 2100, ILRST 2100/STSCI 2100 or MATH 1710.)
  • Three additional elective DSOC courses, one of which must be at the 3000+ level
  • DSOC 4700 Senior Capstone Course (offered Fall and Spring)

The elective courses allow students to focus on particular themes in either a domestic or international setting in such areas as:

  • Sociology of development
  • Social processes linking environment, population and development
  • Ethnic and class stratification
  • Social movements & policy
  • Gender
  • Development

Visit the Department of Development Sociology's website for more information on course requirements

DSOC 2010 Population Dynamics

The primary focus of this class is the relationships between demographic processes (fertility, mortality and immigration) and social and economic issues.

DSOC 2050 International Development

This course considers development as an evolving world project and from the perspective of its social and ecological impact: asking questions about costs and benefits of economic growth, about the global context (geo-political, institutional, production, consumption and discursive relations) and the sustainability of various models.

DSOC 3240 Environment and Society

A primary focus of the course will be the relationship between environmental and social problems as well as the many political ideologies, philosophies and movements that have continually redefined how we think of environment and sustainability.

Minor in Development Sociology

The Development Sociology Minor is designed to provide students an understanding of basic sociological concepts as well as to supplement the curriculum of their major subject.

A minimum total of 15 Development Sociology credit hours are required.
(Please note that Development Sociology majors are NOT eligible for this minor.)

1. Required courses (3):

  • DSOC 1101 - Introduction to Sociology (SOC 1101 may be substituted for DSOC 1101.)
  • DSOC 2050 - International Development
  • DSOC 3130 - Social Indicators & Introduction to Social Science Research

2. Choose two (2) of the following courses

  • DSOC 2010 - Population Dynamics
  • DSOC 2020 - Perspectives on International Agriculture and Rural Development
  • DSOC 2030 - Global Garbage
  • DSOC 2710 - Social & Political Context of American Education
  • DSOC 3010 - Theories of Society and Development
  • DSOC 3050 - Education, Inequality, and Development
  • DSOC 3200 - Rethinking Development
  • DSOC 3230 - Gender and Social Change
  • DSOC 3240 - Environment and Society
  • DSOC 3400 - Agriculture, Food, Sustainability and Social Science
  • DSOC 3700 - Comparative Social Inequalities
  • DSOC 4100 - Health and Survival Inequalities

Courses must be taken for a letter grade. Only courses for which a "C-" or better is received will count towards the minor.

Please complete and submit the Development Sociology Minor Application. Submitted applications are sent directly to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator who will confirm receipt within 7 days.

Questions? Contact aeb238 [at]

Transfer Requirements

Contribute to understanding societal development and factors to solve social problems, both local and global, in a program that is well known for international, domestic, rural, environmental, agricultural, and population studies.

Academic Record

  • Strong academic record at the college level. In general, competitive applicants have at least a 3.0 (B) average.

  • CALS Required Coursework should be completed or in-progress with a “B” or better before applying.

  • The most competitive applicants are full-time students who have met the GPA and course requirements.

(Or transfers with two full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application).


Strongly encouraged (but not required):

  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology (labs recommended)

  • Either General (Inorganic) Chemistry I or Physics I (labs recommended

(Or transfers with four full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application).


  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology (labs not required)

  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking

  • Statistics

  • Introduction to Sociology

  • Either General (Inorganic) Chemistry I or Physics I (labs recommended)

Strongly encouraged (but not required):

Courses that meet the CALS social science and humanities requirements in Cultural Analysis, Historical Analysis, Knowledge, Cognition and Moral Reasoning, Literature and the Arts, Social and Behavioral Analysis and Foreign Language.

Careers in Development Sociology

Man working at a computer.


  • Business partner
  • Business analyst
  • Sales field representative
  • Marketing account executive
  • Multicultural marketing manager
  • Real estate development project manager
  • Assistant buyer
  • Healthcare consultant


  • Elementary special education teacher
  • Teach for America teacher
  • Education coordinator
  • Citi Year Corps educator


  • Research aide
  • Research special assistant
  • Sustainability research special assistant


  • Litigation paralegal
  • Paralegal
  • Environmental client development executive
  • Natural resources client development executive
  • Natural resources social science assistant
  • Social impact and philanthropy

Explore your opportunities

A CALS education goes beyond the classroom and gives students frequent opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world settings.